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Mitch Booth interviews Team Boskalis

by Diana Bogaards on 28 Jun 2013
Team Boskalis © Laurens Morel
The extensive experience of multihull expert Mitch Booth may be beneficial for Team Boskalis this season.Many years, he performed on the highest level of catamaran sailing, resulting in an Olympic silver and bronze medal and several World titles.

The time of sharing his knowledge with the next generation has slowly arrived. After having showed his eldest son Taylor Booth the way to the top, his younger son Jordi will be next. They join forces under the flag of Team Boskalis.

'It is nice to do some racing for a change, it has been quiet through the winter', says Mitch Booth when we finally get hold on him. Booth is racing the Extreme 40 with Team China and the Turkish team, but Act 4 in Istanbul had to be postponed. 'If Istanbul is on, I will sail with the Turkish as a skipper.' In addition, he does some keelboat and F18 racing. 'It is a bit of a mix, including a super, super yacht of 160 foot, something different.'

Another project is Kuka-Light, which is a 42-foot monohull. 'From day one I have been involved with the whole concept of the boat and the function of what it was made for. It is really high performance and as close to multihull as it can get.'

Why Team Boskalis?

'It started with Jordi, who wanted to do some F18 racing.' Booth talked to his son, set up the project with him and approached Gunnar Larsen from Nacra International. 'He said: ‘Why don’t you become part of Team Boskalis’. It was a good match and here we are.' Individual growth is one of the key values of Team Boskalis. That is why the sailing program revolves around knowledge transfer and talent development. Father and son Booth fit in perfectly.
What experiences and knowledge from your own career do you like to share with your son?

'He is preparing for big events, like the ISAF Youth Worlds and F18 Worlds. It is really trying to change the preparations from doing a club race to doing high level international races. It is a different approach from going to the club with six to eight boats with one coach, who tells what and when to do something. At his age you should start thinking for yourself how to do it. That is what I am trying to realize with Jordi, so when he goes to the Youth Worlds he knows how to do the preparations without the coach telling him how to do it. That is the whole idea. It is the transition from being told and organized for you to thinking yourself. It is the same process I went through with Taylor.'

Being their father, does that make a difference in the way you coach them?

'No, not really. The only advantage for them is that we talk about every aspect of the project at dinner or breakfast. It is an ongoing evolution of the whole thing.'

What are Jordi’s ambitions?

'He likes the Nacra 17 and racing on high level. He is very competitive and takes one step at the time. First the SL16 Open Worlds, then the F18 Worlds and directly the ISAF Youth Worlds. At the end of that we will see how he has performed and we will be thinking of whether we will do another year in the F18 or the possibility of switching into the Nacra 17.'

As a father, what would you like him to achieve?

'From my side there is absolutely no pressure or obligation to do anything. It is up to him. If he wants to continue, I will support him as much as I can, but it is not like I am trying to map out a career or sort of goals for him. In fact it is quite the opposite, as I am trying to avoid teaching him what should or could happen. He should decide on his own.'

What kind of sailor is he?

'He is very aggressive in a physical sense, which is good as I am slowing down a bit (he laughs). It works well on the boat. He is probably also good at making quick decisions, but that is the nature of multihull sailing. I find the best way to learn is go and race at the top level and make those mistakes. Rather than somebody says to you: ‘Don’t do this or that’. Go out and have fun. Race against the best as much as you can. Great if you make that mistake, because you learn all those lessons. It is a free going learning process, not very structured. We don’t have video reviews or theory going on. It is more by experience and feel.'

'That is the way I have learned it. I didn’t have a coach or any formal training until probably I was mid twenties. It was off the beach and start sailing against very competitive sailors. We just went out and raced a lot. I think that is a good way in the beginning to really learning all the basics of sailing and trimming the boat. When you get to a much higher level, coaching is critical. Jordi is only sixteen. He must have fun and enjoy the sport. I think that is key.'
What about your own Olympic ambitions?

'Oh, I don’t now. I think the Nacra 17 is an exciting boat and I like to have a go on it. I certainly would not make a good crew, but I don’t know if the male skipper and female crew combination is the best. The reality is, I am not going to crew. I am getting too old you know.'

At the Spanish F18 Championships Mitch and Jordi Booth won all races in a row. Now they are preparing for the F18 Worlds, to be sailed from July 6 till July 12 2013 in Italy. Their Boskalis teammates Jorden Veenman/Frank de Waard, Jolbert van Dijk/Niels Kleijweg and Taylor Booth/Mischa de Munck are getting ready as Team Boskalis website
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